Babinden is one of the great national women’s holidays, dedicated to the “grandmothers” – the women who helped give birth to the young brides. The rites on this day are mainly subordinated to the desire to show honor and respect to the elderly women who helped the women in labor. This holiday is pagan and comes from distant Proto-Slavic times, but it has survived and during the Renaissance it was extremely revered.

It is celebrated on January 21. In the past, on this day, the grandmother got up early and visited the homes of the children whom she helped to be born during the year, and sometimes bathed until the 40th day – according to Bulgarian beliefs, it is not known whether the child belongs to this or the other world. Traditionally, the grandmother comes to the houses with red and white thread, which she ties on the children, as well as wool, from which she makes beards for the boys and hair for the girls, symbolizing the wish that they grow old. After visiting all the children she has helped to give birth, the grandmother goes home and prepares to welcome the mothers who have given birth during the year. They give her water to wash herself, they give her a towel and soap, and there is always gold tied in the towels. They also bring bread, cheese, some sort of feast, wine or brandy. They sit at the table and feast. Delighted, the women get up to dance, sing to each other, and the grandmother, with a spatula, on which there is a heat and a sharp flower of various herbs, guides them. The main moments of the holiday are the bathing of the children by the grandmother and the “bathing” of the grandmother. The women take the grandmother to a river, lake or well, where the ritual bathing takes place. All are adorned with red peppers and wool. Men are not allowed on the holiday. The women flirt and joke with the men they meet along the way. They take the grandmother to bathe her and carry her back to the home. It is important for all mothers of older children to wash well in the morning. With basil, geranium, a towel and soap, they go to the grandmother and give them as a gift.

Children – the most important thing in our lives, are also cherished by our ancestors. It was important to give birth to healthy, beautiful and smart children. Grandmothers who gave birth to children were in special respect. “A house without children let fire burn it”, says the proverb, and another adds “Who is greater than the king? The child”.

According to folk beliefs, in order to give birth to healthy children, a number of prohibitions should be observed:

Children should not be conceived on the night of Friday and Saturday.

A pregnant woman should not kick a dog or a cat, jump over rye, eat bread returned from a journey, should not walk on spilled water or garbage, but most importantly she should not steal or eat secretly, because what is stolen or eaten secretly come out as a mark on the child. Everything that the pregnant woman asks for must be given to her, according to folk beliefs. If food is hidden from her, the child will be spiteful, unhealthy.

For an easy birth, the grandmother midwife must cross herself, light a candle and light the house, close windows and doors and untie everything tied up. This way, the birth will go more easily, our people thought. The birth itself must be kept a secret and no one, except the mother-in-law and the grandmother, should know about it. Until the child is baptized, the woman in labor should not get out of bed or stay alone. These are dangerous days for her and the child. The fire in the hearth should not be extinguished until the 40th day.

Since 1951, Babinden has been declared the Day of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.